John Shuster, Pete Fenson lead rinks into Olympic Curling Trials finals

Shawn Rojeski, Joe Polo
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The skips of the last two U.S. Olympic curling teams will vie for a shot at Sochi.

2010 skip John Shuster and 2006 skip Pete Fenson led their rinks into the final playoff series of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Fargo, N.D., on Thursday.

Shuster, who was on Fenson’s bronze-medal rink at the 2006 Olympics, beat Fenson 4-3 on Thursday afternoon to clinch his spot. Fenson advanced minutes later when Heath McCormick‘s rink beat Tyler George‘s rink 8-5.

Last year’s U.S. champion rink, skipped by Brady Clark, was eliminated earlier in the competition.

Shuster and Fenson’s rinks will play a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. The second game will be Saturday at 3:30, and the third (if necessary) is Sunday at noon.

All games will be televised on NBCSN and streamed on NBC Live Extra.

The winner after a best-of-three championship series is not guaranteed an Olympic berth.

The next step is what’s called the Olympic Qualification Event from Dec. 10-15 in Füssen, Germany, because the U.S. did not qualify for Sochi via results at last two World Championships.

The top two from the Olympic Qualification Event will earn the final spots at theOlympics.

The U.S. is favored to take one of those two spots given it’s the highest-ranked nation in the Olympic Qualification Event field (eighth overall) and has qualified into every Olympic curling tournament since the sport returned to the Games in 1998.

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